The Oscars provided an interesting case study in Valentino then and now. Representing the "then" camp was Anne Hathaway in an archival red glamour gown dating to the mid-aughts. And in the "now" corner: Florence and the Machine's Florence Welch in a high-necked, semi-sheer lace dress from the Spring haute couture collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli. Welch's dress walked a demure-naughty divide that the current designers have made their signature. After refining the look for evening over the last couple of seasons, they've turned their attention to day.

That balancing act might be tougher to pull off when it's light outside, but the duo came up with some intriguing propositions. The idea could be as simple as pairing a ribbed crew-neck sweater with a tiered black lace skirt, or as complicated (for their seamstresses, not for the women who wear it) as a dress that spliced a grid of lace onto leather. From a distance, a dark, blackish-red cashmere skirtsuit looked the picture of upper-crust propriety, but up close you noticed the small studs that dotted the torso. Those studs, by the way, have quickly become a new house signature thanks to the popularity of the label's studded T-strap shoes.

Chiuri and Piccioli injected newness into their eveningwear in the form of prints—feathers, lilies of the valley, and an abstract lace-check pattern. Also sounds demure, right? Wrong, the unstructured silhouette is almost as easy as a T-shirt. Welch was front-row bopping and singing along, but with its focus on glamorous daywear, this collection could go a ways to making fans of women who don't have a red carpet to walk every night of the week.